From: Gary Hunt at the Outpost of Freedom

July 4">

From: Gary Hunt at the Outpost of Freedom

July 4">

From: Gary Hunt at the Outpost of Freedom

July 4">

From: Gary Hunt at the Outpost of Freedom

July 4, 1775
The End of an Era

By Gary Hunt,
Outpost of Freedom
July 4, 1998

Most people, as a result of public education, perceive this date, July 4 (1776) as the beginning of American Independence, and celebrate it as such. Little, however, is spoken of what preceded the Declaration of Independence from tyrannical rule just 222 years ago. Perhaps the time has come to understand more of what lead to this Declaration than the incidents that followed it.

Beginning about 1770, disenchantment with the British rule over the colonies began forcing many colonists into reconsideration of their relationship with the Crown. The greatest misgiving had to do with the Crown attempting to force the colonies to bear the entire financial burden of the recently ended French-Indian Wars. The Crown argued that the cost of the war should be born by the colonists because the Crown had fought the war to protect them. The colonists knew that the Crown was protecting her own interests, those of the Hudson Bay Trading Company and the East India Tea Company.

Various forms of taxation were "experimented" with. As the colonists expressed their outrage, other methods were tried. Trade was limited to only British trading companies, denying the colonies the ability to profit from sales directly to Spanish, French colonies, or other British colonies.

Violence was utilized to express indignation over the acts of the Crown. Occasionally, the violence resulted in death to a taxman or other government official, but for the most part, the violence was limited to and directed against property.

We might wonder, today, why the violence was so much different then than what has occurred the past few years in this country. The answer lies in the fact that the British were bound by certain principles and the colonists bound themselves, likewise. For instance, the Boston Massacre resulted in trial of the British soldiers who fired, and killed self-defense. The fact that they were tried for this "crimes" before a jury of colonists is indicative of the honor that existed then, and which is no longer a consideration by government today. In fact, the honor was so evident then that two of the soldiers were convicted of Capital crimes, and were to be executed. They were released, however, only after seeking Benefit of the Clergy and being branded,. It is difficult to conceive of the government, today, allowing any of its "agents" to stand trial for killing someone.

Until the events of April 19, 1775, there was a desire to maintain a degree of equality between the actions of the British and the actions of the colonists. Justice, you see, did apply to all, and fairly equally, with the exception of Writs of Assistance.

Writs of Assistance were blanket search warrants. Whoever possessed one could search anyone, anytime, looking for anything. Not much unlike what the government does today with warrants without valid affidavits and lacking the specificity that the Constitution requires.

After the British sought to seize the firearms, powder and cannon stored in Lexington, the hostilities became those of actual war. Still, however, the state of mind of the colonists was that they were willing to fight, and to die, to maintain their rights under the unwritten British Constitution. Since the Magna Carta a doctrine had been established and improved. Recognizing the rights of Englishman (which the colonists were) in their relationship with the government was the sole objective. The perception that these rights were being denied was sufficient to raise the call "To Arms!" Reconciliation, however, was the objective.

It was hoped that the British would recognize their rights and that, once this was achieved, all would return to normal. Very few would speak of "separation." It would have been treasonous to consider other than the Crown as the lawful authority. Like so many "revolutions" in Britain"s past, this one was to establish certain fundamental rights that the battlefield was taken to.

For fourteen months, the colonists still sought only reconciliation. Lives were lost by the thousands, but the allegiance to the Crown never wavered. Only a few spoke otherwise. Among them, Sam Adams had spoken and sought the goal of self-government for years. The arguments in favor of separation were presented to the Second Continental Congress. Probably the most convincing was that the British would surely look at the colonies as the Crown"s errant son, and would never again trust them as they had in times past.

On July 2, 1776, the Congress approved the wording that was to be known as the Declaration of Independence. The document was formally signed two days later. This act was the end of an era in colonial history. The fortitude that was necessary to achieve what the document declared had developed in the years prior to this date. History recognizes the document, but fails, all too often, to recognize what it took to arrive at that point in history.


". . . As to the history of the revolution, my ideas may be peculiar, perhaps singular. What do we mean by the revolution? The war? That was no part of the revolution; it was only an effect and consequence of it. The revolution was in the minds of the people, and this was effected from 1760 to 1775, in the course of fifteen years, before a drop of blood was drawn at Lexington. The records of the thirteen legislatures, the pamphlets, newspapers in all the colonies ought to be consulted during that period, to ascertain the steps by which the public opinion was enlightened and informed concerning the authority of parliament over the colonies."

Letter from John Adams to Thomas Jefferson, August 24, 1815.

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